Sometimes on the big tours you have to change plans; road closures, janitors, barrier crews, motorway crashes can all influence your ‘best laid plans.’

At the end of the day you may not have missed deadline – we rarely do – but there’ll be that feeling that you could have done better.

Then there are days when you have to struggle then struggle some more but eventually it comes together, you get to where you want to be and get those special pictures.

This day was such a day; lost, lost again, a massive detour through the mountains – against race route to the top of the Colle Delle Finestre – but we really enjoyed our pizza after this one…

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This article first ran on 30th May, 2015

Colle Delle FinestreIt was a privilege to be there and great to be part of it all on the Colle Delle Finestre on Stage 20; a marvelous spectacle on the ‘sterrato‘ without doubt – but is it sport or simply a circus?

The cameras love it and it’s great copy – maybe I’m being too harsh?

Paris-Roubaix throws back to the old day so why not have stages like this, many would say?

Albeit I still say there were too many mountain days in the race, just too hard.

Colle Delle Finestre
Giacomo Nizzolo checks the height gained so far. Photo©Martin Williamson

The Giro is a marvelous race but it’s not the Tour – nothing is, can or will ever be.

The Italian race organisers have decided that if they can’t match/best the French race on organisation, prestige and scale then their race will be the toughest around.

They’ve achieved that.

We had an ‘interesting’ day; we got lost multiple times because we were early on the road and couldn’t follow the percorso through one way systems – the wrong way – or because we were ahead of the route crews.

We finally took to the motorway, paid the mad toll charges and arrived at the foot of the Colle Delle Finestre to find it was closed to ALL traffic except police, organisation and team vehicles.

Colle Delle Finestre
We were right to think that non-race cars wouldn’t be allowed up here. Photo©Martin Williamson

Plan B saw us hightail it to the Sestriere finish the long way round and go up the Finestre from the ‘wrong’ side.

There’s absolutely no way we could have done that in France – the roads are locked down early and NOTHING except the police goes against race direction – but we thought with this being Italia…

And Bingo!

We parked the VV VW 20 metres from the top and had a celebratory coffee with grappa.

Colle Delle Finestre
Most of the people that are here have made the journey by bike or on foot . Photo©Martin Williamson

The crowd was huge and largely good natured; our wee car – with the exception of team cars – was the only motor up there, everyone else had either pedaled or walked up from a bus park about three K down.

There’s a monument to Danilo Di Luca as the first man to breast the climb, a decade ago.

The ‘sterrato’ is about the same as the fire roads you’d find in a Scottish forrest – it’s not tarmac but it’s not too bad and we didn’t witness a single puncture.

Colle Delle Finestre
Mikel Landa Meana. Photo©Martin Williamson

Landa was motoring and so too was Aru. I’m not of the, “everyone is still kitting” school of thought but Aru’s recovery to win two stages surprises me – when you’re cooked in a race like this, you’re cooked.

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Fabio Aru seems to have recovered completely. Photo©Martin Williamson

A tough shift for Alberto – he was distanced within our field of vision and by the end had conceded 2:25 to Aru.

Colle Delle Finestre
Alberto Contador keeps calm after being dropped from the group. Photo©Martin Williamson

The drop off the Colle Delle Finestre is technical then the climb to Sestriere is horrible – wide, long straight, not a good place to be having a bad day.

But Contador didn’t panic, weathered the storm and barring disasters has the 2015 Giro won.

Aru’s stock is now sky high and with Nibali, Italy now was two men who can win a Grand Tour.

Colle Delle Finestre
Rick Zabel prepares for the descent. Photo©Martin Williamson
Colle Delle Finestre
Giovanni Visconti. Photo©Martin Williamson
Colle Delle Finestre
Eugenio Alafaci. Photo©Martin Williamson
Colle Delle Finestre
Paolo Tiralongo. Photo©Martin Williamson
Colle Delle Finestre
Ryder Hesjedal. Photo©Martin Williamson
Colle Delle Finestre
Philippe Gilbert. Photo©Martin Williamson
Colle Delle Finestre
Yonathan Monsalve has a newspaper ready for stuffing up his jersey. Photo©Martin Williamson
Colle Delle Finestre
Lotto-Jumbo physio Piet-Jan De Coninck passes a bottle up to Moreno Holland. Photo©Martin Williamson
Colle Delle Finestre
Steven Kruijswijk. Photo©Martin Williamson
Colle Delle Finestre
Luka Mezgec. Photo©Martin Williamson
Colle Delle Finestre
Davide Formolo. Photo©Martin Williamson
Colle Delle Finestre
Sonny Colbrelli gets a push. Photo©Martin Williamson
Colle Delle Finestre
Francesco Bongiorno checks how far to go on the Colle Delle Finestre. Photo©Martin Williamson
Colle Delle Finestre
Large crowds, given the effort needed to get up here. Photo©Martin Williamson
Colle Delle Finestre
Ivan Basso, team rider these days. Photo©Martin Williamson
Colle Delle Finestre
Darwin Atapuma. Photo©Martin Williamson

At the other end of the ‘Classifica Generale’ last man on the stage – on the same time as big track power house Roger Kluge @ 53:30 – was Trek’s Coledan who now anchors the race @ 6:40:13.

Colle Delle Finestre
Roger Kluge gets a little assistance. Photo©Martin Williamson

You can’t help but admire Kluge, he’s a big man and every day he lines up on these mountain stages he knows it’s another journey into Hell – respect!

We’re driving from Sestriere to Torino just now, the last tappa then the plane home, tomorrow.

All good things…

Ciao, ciao.

Colle Delle Finestre
The crowds wait patiently to be able to get off the mountain. Photo©Martin Williamson